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Photo Credit: DUANE BURLESON / AP

WWYDW: Shotgun Jake

Jake Virtanen’s gotten off to a red-hot start this season, scoring 8 goals though his first 20 games, earning a spot on the team’s top line with Elias Pettersson. Unfortunately, Virtanen’s strong play on that line has coincided with a dip in Petersson’s production. One could argue the regression was inevitable, but it’s led to questions about whether or not Virtanen limit’s Petersson’s effectiveness and if he should remain on that line when Brock Boeser returns. I’ve suggested Bo Horvat might be a better fit in the long-term, but what do you think? Where would you play Virtanen in a healthy lineup?

Last week I asked: Who would you like to see Pettersson play with at even-strength?

CanuckFan4ever:

Swap Eriksson and Virtanen. Give Jake some top 6 time. He’s 3rd on our team in goals.

Goon:

When Boeser is back I think they have to go back to Goldobin / Pettersson / Boeser, at least for a few games. They were absolute dynamite in the short time they spent together.

If everyone’s healthy, Goldobin / Pettersson / Boeser and Baertschi / Horvat and either Eriksson or Virtanen, depending on how each has been playing, makes the most sense. You can swap Boeser and Eriksson between the top two lines if there’s a need to balance out the offence / two-way play, but for the time being I want to see as much Pettersson and Boeser together as possible.

Beer Can Boyd:

Well, they haven’t had too many games together, but 11 points against Colorado might suggest that Boeser and Goldobin worked out pretty well. Or, if you think that Boeser is better served with Horvat and Baertschi, then Eriksson is just fine there for now. Its going to be Dahlens gig at some point in the next 2 years anyway.

TD:

Pettersson and Boeser are obvious once Boeser is healthy. I’m not sold on Goldobin and wonder what Zack MacEwan would look like with them. They are our stars and the cross check to Boeser’s back and Pettersson’s abuse makes me think they could use some size and toughness with them. MacEwan has never been a big penalty minute guy and it may not work, but having some size in front of the net and on the forecheck would be nice to go with the skill of the other two. Goldobin certainly has not done much with them.

I would like to see Bo Goldy and Baer play together once Baer is back.

I have like Virtanen on the third line, he scores off the rush, not off of established o zone time. That doesn’t fit with the top two line, but looks great on the third line.

livininvic:

I think they have already nailed it with Pettersson, Boeser and Goldobin. The chemistry is fantastic, and this is future first line material. Goldy is the only question mark, but if he can dial it in offensively, we have a young, skilled FAST first line with a horse running the 2nd line. Dahlen or someone we haven’t signed/drafted yet is who Goldy needs to be worried about stealing his spot. Pettersson and Boeser should stick together long term regardless. This year, I like the combo they have.

For 2019/2020:
1st line
Goldobin (or Dahlen) / Pettersson / Boeser
Second Line
Baertschi / Horvat / Dahlen (or Goldobin)

That’s some well balanced scoring, with extra punch on the top line with our two superstars. IMO

Kanuckhotep:

Let’s deal in the here and now. Get everyone back and let’s have: Petey/Brock/Goldy and Bo/Baertschi/Loui as top 2 lines. Green can mix his last two lines accordingly with Jake chipping in some O on a third line. Now I know Leipzig tries and Gaudette is a C but #88 is on a convincing mission to make this club and Benning has to make a decision on Leipzig vis-a-vis Gaudette, regardless of position IMHO. Would hate also to have Goldy end up the new Richard Park: wheels, hands and flash but no finish. But Park never played with an EP and Goldobin must seize the opportunity and now to succeed.

  • Several people, myself included, answered this last week, and I’ll stick with last week’s answer. I’d bounce Virtanen between Horvat’s wing and the third line wing (whether that’s Gaudette or Sutter), based on his play and Eriksson’s play. I imagine that’s exactly what Green’s going to do, too.

  • Kanuckhotep

    So long as Boeser is a Canuck Jake will become a highly respectable top 6/ 2nd line RW and quite soon. Presently Loui and Virtanen are interchangeable on the second and third lines according to what Green may require for any given situation. Jake was a special project for this club and Travis Green wasn’t exactly Barney to him in Utica…and it seems to be working. Fans wanted immediacy with JV#18 and his performance and I get it. After all he just turned 22 and am glad for him.

  • CanuckFan4ever

    Jake and Bo both play a two-way style of game and would compliment each other nicely.

    Roussel-Horvat-Virtanen
    Goldobin-Pettersson-Eriksson
    Leipsic-Gaudette-Granlund
    Schaller-Gaunce-Motte
    x-Archibald
    inj-Boeser, Baertschi, Beagle, Sutter

  • apr

    If and when this team is truly a Stanley Cup contender, Jake should be playing in the third line with Gaudette and someone like Lind on a versatile line that can shutdown, be a spark, and contribute offensively.

  • tyhee

    I see Virtanen as someone whose production is stronger off the rush than pretty cycles or tic-tac-toe passing plays holding possession in the zone.

    Stylistically I think Boeser is a better fit for Eriksson. Virtanen’s strength off the rush fits better with Horvat or even Sutter. His recent production may suffer from being a small sample but unless and until it dries up I’d be inclined to avoid putting him with Beagle or Gaudette at center unless there is reason to do it in a defensive situation.

    Line combinations don’t remain static but with that proviso, as things are right now I’d play him with Horvat.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Virtanen should be tried on a line with Horvat. Both are strong, fast and tenacious. Getting consistently matched against the same D pair over a game will wear down defencemen. Baertschi can take LW.

    Virtanen’s offensive abilities have out grown the strictly shut down roll. Playing with Sutter does/will repress his offensive upside. Boeser is a better winger for Pettersson. Virtanen’s style of play is not a great match for Pettersson. He isn’t scoring with Virtanen on his line and Virtanen’s goals aren’t coming from Pettersson set-ups. He scores off the rush and on the 2nd unit PP. Not sure EP even has an assist on a Big Tuna goal.

    Goldobin has done well at times on a line with Pettersson and Boeser but if his giveaways continue or he reverts to passenger mode move Ericksson or Granlund onto that LW.

  • truthseeker

    To me, Jake’s offense isn’t a product of who he plays with. It’s a product of his minutes. So I don’t really care who he plays with, I just want to see his minutes ramped up. He seems to create most of his own offense so turn him loose.

    Of course, if it seems like he takes away opportunity from someone like EP, then yeah…obviously don’t play them together, but this has also been a short sample size and at a time where EP has hit a bit of a wall just like the team. I don’t mind if they try the two of them together a bit more to be sure.

    • Defenceman Factory

      given the injury situation Green is doing his best to piece together a top 6 so playing Virtanen with Pettersson is fine for a while. The question asked was “in a healthy line up”. Do you think Boeser with Horvat is better than Boeser with Pettersson? Do you really think Virtanen would be scoring as he is playing with Sutter?

      • truthseeker

        I don’t know actually. That’s a good question. I do like Boeser with Horvat (and Sven when healthy). They seem to have a good vibe together. How many points have EP and Brock combined on? Can’t say I’ve kept track, but I feel like they haven’t been that great together. Granted, it’s been a small sample size there as well.

        I suppose I’d try them together for obvious reasons, as stacking talent could make a scary good line, but I kind of feel like they might get in each other’s way a bit and might be better suited apart. Brock is a goal scorer first who can set up plays. EP looks to be equally able to score and set up. I think having two strong goal scoring threats makes more sense on separate lines, but I’m quite happy to be wrong about that if they dominate together.

        As for Jake….well…yeah, I kind of do. There’s been no rhyme or reason to his goals this year. Unassisted, or practically a different player each time. Again, I think it’s more about minutes than his linemates. Having said that, I don’t really want to see Sutter getting 20 minutes a night…lol. I’m not a hater but I want Horvat and EP carrying the load. So if Jake rides shotgun with either of them, it’s fine by me.

        • Defenceman Factory

          EP hasn’t scored with a Virtanen assist and has one assist on a Virtanen goal. EP scored three times with Boeser assists and assisted on two of Boeser’s goals. If it is true Virtanen is going to score regardless of line mates it seems logical to keep Boeser and Pettersson together.

          • truthseeker

            As long as Jake keeps this kind of pace I guess.

            I didn’t get to negative on him when he was struggling and I won’t get overly positive on him now that he’s doing better. It’s very nice to see him having success though.

    • truthseeker

      True, but the whole team seems to be having some discipline issues. Really it’s been since the start of the season. They’re taking way to many penalties in my opinion.

  • wojohowitz

    Well isn`t that a puzzle – what to do with Jake. 1st line with Bo? 2nd line with Petey? 3rd line with Sutter or Gaudette? He is driving the bus – makes every line he`s on better. What`s he doing that pesses off the other team? When he`s challenged he skates away and that drives them nuts.

  • Robson Street

    Looking at who’s controlling shots at 5v5 is revealing.

    Believe it or not, Goldobin and Pettersson move from fair to excellent in outshooting the opposition when Virtanen has joined their line (only 34 minutes though). To me that says that Virtanen might be a victim of bad timing, getting an audition just as Pettersson’s unsustainable hot streak is ending.

    The other interesting centre (in a small sample) is Gaudette. They’ve also controlled the shots at 5 on 5 together.

    In contrast, Virtanen hasn’t moved the needle one way or the other when playing with Horvat this year.

    If Jake is going, I’d goose his minutes and play him up with Pettersson. On other nights, play him with Gaudette.

    (Source: hockeyviz WOWY charts)

  • Holly Wood

    If Boeser plays with EP and Louie, Jake plays with Bart and the Bo. Sutter centres Granlund and Roussel. Beagle goes with Schaller and Motte. Goldie stays as the 13th forward . Archibald, Leipsic, Gaunce and Gaudette to Utica until the injuries hit again. I was earlier thinking Gaudette could play on the wing just to keep him on the roster but it’s best for his long term development to go to Utica and be ready to go next year or at the deadline if a forward is moved

  • LACANUCK

    I think playing with Bo is a no brainer. EP plays a cerebral game that requires passing as an option. Jake would get a few break always because of EPS passing and Jakes speed, but Bo plays a fast rush game with strength. That’s Jake’s jam!